New york wants to focus on solar power. But building solar isn’t easy in the Big Apple, a city of soaring towers and ever-changing shadows. Roof topography, strict fire codes, zoning and setback rules all need to be considered. There just isn’t as much space as in the desert, or even suburbia. And yet, New York’s desire to add solar has never been stronger. “People here are animated about climate change,” said Marc Kaminsky, a Brooklyn resident who recently added solar to his roof.
Panels are being installed atop brownstones, warehouses, affordable housing and post-war high-rises. There’s 154 megawatts of installed solar city-wide today, spanning about 15,000 projects, according to Ellie Kahn, a policy adviser in the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. The city is targeting 1,000 megawatts of solar by 2030. So far, most of the city’s solar projects have been outside Manhattan, the land of skyscrapers, such as Staten Island or Queens or Brooklyn.
But solar is still popping up in Manhattan. Blackstone Group LP is installing one of the city’s biggest solar projects—3.8 megawatts at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village on Manhattan’s east side. Panels are being installed atop the 22 acres of rooftops on the complex’s high-rises, and will cover 6 percent of the community’s total consumption. The investment firm expects construction to be complete in early 2019.
In 2015 Blackstone learned through focus groups that sustainability was a priority for residents. The project has since proved to be an urban-solar testing ground. The firm is now considering adding solar to other properties, said Melissa Pianko, a managing director in its real estate group.